This is the story of Howard Blackburn.
Before I moved to Gloucester I had no idea who Howard Blackburn was, but living in Gloucester and immersing yourself in the culture and history of this wonderful place Howard Blackburn has come up a lot.
He was a fisherman by trade and all he ever wanted to do was fish off schooners. In this time period you would drop the dory's (a type of rowboat) in the water and two dory's would haul the nets out to catch the fish. Blackburn did most of his fishing in the North East and one such fishing trips he was rowing with his partner, got caught in a squall and lost sight of the schooner. As a result they rowed for days, and Blackburn lost his gloves. He rowed and rowed, and his fingers froze to the oars. He ended up losing all his fingers, but that was better than his rowing partner who lost his life.
Howard Blackburn Portrait
And if you happen to stop by the Resturant The Howard Blackburn you will this portrait hanging on the wall opposite the bar
Blackburn became in a way famous because he lived through this horrible event and came out on the other side a better man. He has much tragedy in his life after this, but was able to open a bar in Gloucester, and the building still has his name on it, in memory.
What also made Blackburn an amazing man is he wanted to follow in the floor steps, of Joshua Slocum who single handedly sailed around the world. But remember Blackburn has no fingers. Blackburn never wanted to sail around the world but he did want to sail across the Atlantic Ocean. That in itself is a feat of amazement with all our fingers. And he did it twice. The book recounts his travels, his pitfalls and his victories. People all over the world knew who this man was and that was before the time of phones, cell phones and the internet.
If you are like me and want to learn more about historical figures from your town, and love sailing like I do this is a book you should pick up. There are other tales of prohibition and owning a saloon, and court cases. But all in all, Blackburn came out on top.
Images* of Blackburns boats he sailed across the Atlantic Ocean
*Pictures taken from the book Lone Voyager